Well, a few short months ago, (as I approached my 70th birthday), Heidi went to work on me saying I should get back into Amateur Radio. (I passed my Amateur Radio “Technician” license back in 2004 – after reflecting upon the unpleasant surprises associated with the 2003 “Cedar Fire” that swept across the North and Eastern sections of San Diego County). Broke out a couple of our older pieces of equipment, including an old ICOM V-8000 2 meter radio and a power supply, hooked it up to an old discone antenna on the roof after a bit of repair on it, and was back in “business”. There is an extreme number of 2 meter repeaters that can be used from this location, well over 30 that I can participate in on low power, (5 watts). That old V-8000 will go up to 75 watts, but a good HAM always uses the lowest power necessary to communicate.
Decided to “go for it”, and go to work on upgrading to the “General” license which would permit me to operate on the rest of the H.F. frequency band. As a “motivator”, picked up an ICOM IC-718 radio from HRO. On the first weekend of November, 2015, (first Saturday), passed my General License exam, and decided to stay on a roll and work toward my “Amateur Extra” license. We also decided to join the Amateur Radio Club of El Cajon, (ARCEC), after kind of “shopping around” and have been *very* happy with that decision.
On the first Saturday of December, passed the Extra exam – but more important to me – on that same morning Heidi took and passed her “Technician” exam. I was absolutely elated! I immediately filled out an application form to become one of the San Diego Amateur Radio Counsel‘s Volunteer Examiners for El Cajon, CA.
On the first Saturday of January, 2016, I served as a “VE” for the very first time. It felt great, and is my way of “paying it forward” to those who helped me along the path.
January, 2016 is about to close as I type, but need to also mention that, after passing that Extra exam, went right to work on learning Morse Code for what is called “Continuous Wave” or CW operation on the ham bands. Now that I am licensed to use *all* of the Ham frequency bands, it was just the next logical step. Have to mention here that my old Dad was part of the Army Signal Corps during the re-taking of the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska during WWII. He could copy telegraphy over HF radio like nobody’s business, so its something I’ve always wanted to accomplish – and it WILL be done. I am getting a ton of help from CW Practice sessions on the ARCEC 2 meter repeater every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, plus a free computer program called “Just Learn Morse Code“, (JLMC).
WHY? Because its a hobby and one that I am having a lot of fun with. There is a more serious side to Amateur Radio – emergency operations – and that is what initially attracted me to it – but if it wasn’t fun it would just set there. Right now, this old boy is having a blast!
Life is good!
NOTE: I haven’t “named names” of the folks who have helped us progress on into the various aspects of Amateur Radio over these past months – and won’t do so without their permission – just the same, have had an absolute ton of help and direct assistance, let alone inspiration. Those folks mean a lot to Heidi and I and are dearly appreciated!